In the last year, Bansky has been consistently in the news starting with the loss of a two-year court fight in September 2020 over the trademark rights of one of his iconic artworks known as the “Flower Thrower”. In October 2020, amid the pandemic, his “Show me the Monet” painting sold for 10 million. In March 2021 he auctioned “Game Changer” that sold for 22 million donating all the proceeds to a health care charity in response to the COVID crisis. 

This summer, Banksy is back in the news with plenty of ads about an immersive exhibition on his life and art coming to major cities in the US slated for NYC from June- November 2021.

This exhibition has already toured 15 cities. During my travels to Lisbon, Portugal, I attended this unauthorized exhibition of Banksy’s work that comprises approximately 100 pieces of artwork and multimedia installations using VR technology.$10 off Contact Lens orders of $99+ with code: CLEAR10

Bansky who?

 For those who may not be aware of this unique artist, let me start with who is Banksy….. the most rebellious graffiti artist of our times. He has cleverly remained anonymous, escalating his net worth in the millions (estimated at 70 million and rising). His unique satirical street art images stenciled on walls and public places during late hours in the night to avoid getting caught are a combination of the worse of politics, greed, war, and today’s fickle culture and excessive consumerism.

Bansky is delightfully controversial and witty offering up simple mural images that can be easily understood transcending any language barrier. He no longer produces prints for sale (doesn’t need to) but seems to have a propensity for raising his value in the marketplace. In 2018, he pulled one of the most amazing performance stunts when his iconic” Girl with Balloon” print was auctioned for 1.4 million dollars and immediately with a push of a remote button it was shredded shocking the Art World. 

 A protest for such an obscene price for a print? Or maybe not, as it is now worth even more with the exposed built-in frame shredder. He even filmed the design of the shredder… anonymous of course (google it). This unique Bansky stunt represents a combination of “performance art” and the “destruction of art making”; both popular art forms. 

So where did this British dude get his inspiration? Clearly, where it all started from the ghettos of New York City and Philadelphia… young Black and Puerto Rican kids, the founding authors of graffiti going back to the early 60s (for real).

In Banksy’s case, he has elevated this art form offering up a different version of today’s more colorful and mainstream street murals. His murals are not meant to be pretty, mostly what is ugly and wrong about the world. Many of his works have a British political theme but many are universal and reflect his travels throughout the world. Bansky is also a filmmaker and has collaborated with many artists in creating extravagant disturbing public installations.

 What about the Exhibition?

This unauthorized touring exhibition named “Banksy: Genius or Vandal?” differs greatly from past exhibits I have attended that have a more traditional museum approach. It has a dark urban and punk vibe with loud music as you walk through the different makeshift galleries, leaning towards a more virtual reality experience. Most of the works are a combination of photos of stencils and public places, small sculptures as well as borrowed stencils and art pieces from owners of his works. There is an outstanding video as you enter the show that is worth watching twice to fully comprehend this powerful art form.

Bansky is at his best when presenting his iconic simplistic yet provocative messaging and images that cause you to think about what is happening to our humanity which is what makes him truly a genius and less of a vandal. My photos capture some of the works and unique messaging that I most enjoyed, but I highly recommend attending the exhibition if you want to learn the scope and purpose of his life.

                                    Click the center of the photo to see the full view. 

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